Visitors to the United States who have clerical errors or other minor problems with their visas and travel papers are winding up jailed or sent home, immigration lawyers say in a story in Friday’s New York Times. A second grader in Manhattan, whose mother is American, faces deportation to his native Canada since he returned from a visit there without the right visa. An Irish professor of literature was sent back to Europe after being handcuffed at the Philadelphia airport, strip-searched and jailed overnight because of an omission in his paperwork. Immigration officers in riot gear snatched up seven Tibetan monks in Omaha after their church sponsor withdrew its support and their religious visas were revoked.
According to the Times story, low-level gatekeepers and prosecutors have used their growing discretionary power over travelers who pose no security risk, despite requests from Homeland Security officials to be alert to the drain of resources and the public black eyes these cases can create.